China has not expressed any opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to raise the ruling of an arbitral tribunal recognizing the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine (South China) Sea in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Duterte had revealed that there were people trying to prevent him from discussing the ruling with Xi.
“We have not heard of any,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre said when asked if Beijing was opposed to the President’s intent to raise the sea ruling with Xi.
“I think that’s the President’s prerogative to discuss the particular issue. At the same time, he already made pronouncement on this particular matter. So, it’s the President’s call to discuss this specific issue,” Montealegre said.
In a recent speech, Duterte said whether China “likes it or not,” he would assert Manila’s historic win against Beijing, referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of
Arbitration in The Hague in The Netherlands in July 2016.
“Ang sabi nila, hindi pag-usapan. Sabi ko, ‘No.’ (They said do not talk about it. I said, ‘No.’) If I am not allowed as a president of [a] sovereign nation to talk [about] whatever I want to talk about, then let us not bother to talk altogether. Do not control my mouth,” the President said on Wednesday.
The President will be in China from August 28 to September 2.
Montealegre said Duterte and Xi would hold a bilateral meeting to discuss both nations’ accomplishments and shared goals under the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation.
“President Duterte looks forward to exchanging views with President Xi on how to accelerate the pace of our functional cooperation, in terms of concrete projects, as well
as on issues of mutual interest to both countries,” he said.
Montealegre added that the two leaders would witness the signing of “a number” of bilateral documents and memoranda of understanding that aim to further increase “the breadth and depth of cooperation between the Philippines and China.”
“There are several agreements that are in the pipeline. Some of them are in the final stages of vetting,” the DFA official said.
“It pertains to education, science and technology, and economic and social development,” he added.